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Agreement reached on setting up Nile Basin parliament: Egyptian minister


CAIRO, March 11, 2004 (MENA) — The Nile Basin legal committee, now convening in Uganda, is discussing in a friendly atmosphere the basin initiative, said the Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation.

The initiative aims at regulating, rationalising and re-distributing the use of the Nile River water.

In a news conference held at the end of a visit paid by an Ethiopian parliamentary delegation to Egypt on Thursday, Mahmoud Abu-Zayd said Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have agreed to set up a joint parliament composed of representatives from the 11-nation Nile Basin countries.

The proposal will be submitted to leaders of the Nile Basin countries, said Abu-Zayd.

For his part, the deputy speaker of the Ethiopian parliament said the relations between Egypt and Ethiopia have been flourishing in light of the agreement signed by President Husni Mubarak and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 1993. The agreement allows the construction of projects that serve the two peoples without encroaching on or affecting the rights of the other.

Parliamentary delegations from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda will visit Cairo later to have a look at the water projects in the country, said Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Mahmoud Abu-Zayd.

They will also discuss coordination within the framework of the Nile Basin initiative on the development of water resources and Nile water, said Abu-Zayd at a joint news conference with the Ethiopian parliament deputy speaker.

The Ethiopian official stressed the importance of boosting trade in Nile water products among the Basin countries. This would demonstrate for the Basin’s nations how important the Nile water was in catering for their needs of food, clothes and more, he said.

The Ethiopian official invited Egyptian investors to invest in the agricultural sector in Ethiopia and import meat from his country.

The Ethiopian parliament deputy speaker also expressed his country’s interest in importing agricultural technology from Egypt and drawing on the country’s scientific research as part of expanding the scope of cooperation between the three East Nile countries of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan

On the purported endeavours by Tanzania and Kenya to re-distribute the Nile water quotas, the senior Ethiopian MP said there are no disagreements among the basin countries. He urged the Nile Basin member-states to work together in an atmosphere of understanding to make the best use of the Nile water.

He noted that it has been agreed with Prime Minister Atif Ubayd and Deputy Premier and Minister of Agriculture Yusuf Wali to intensify training programmes at Egyptian centres for Ethiopian trainees, and to enhance cooperation in the scientific field to produce highly productive and healthy seeds and beef up cooperation in the livestock field.

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